The Gallatin North Missourian recently reported that a Smithville, Mo., man was
seriously injured after being ejected from a 2010 Polaris ATV. As a Missouri ATV defect lawyer, I always notice reports of accidents like this because they confirm what many people already know, but that ATV manufacturers continue to deny: Many ATVs are dangerous simply because of how they are designed.
The newspaper said that on the morning of August 7, William Thompson, 36, was driving a 2010 Polaris ATV in a field on private property in Pattonsburg. While driving south, he attempted to make a right turn and the ATV flipped over, ejecting him. The ATV ended up right-side-up again, but facing the opposite direction. It sustained minor damage, but Thompson sustained unnamed injuries described as serious. He was taken in an ambulance to Harrison County Community Hospital. The Daviess County Sheriff’s Office and two state troopers investigated the accident. The news report did not say whether Thompson was wearing a helmet or other safety gear.
In my work as a St. Louis all-terrain vehicle crash attorney, I’ve handled the cases of many clients injured by ATVs even though they were riding them properly and in what they thought was a safe manner. Yet, as I wrote earlier this summer, Polaris ATVs have such a long and checkered history of serious safety recalls, it’s hard for ATV riders to know when they really are safe on these vehicles. Since 2000, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued multiple recall notices for Polaris ATVs almost every year. The recalls were called for serious safety risks like defective steering mechanisms that fall apart without notice, as well as fire hazards from several different causes. In many cases, ATVs are also designed in a way that makes them unreasonably likely to flip over, despite their intended use as off-road vehicles.
I hope that Thompson makes a full and speedy recovery from his injuries. Unfortunately, injuries sustained in ATV accidents are frequently very serious. Some people are not fortunate enough to escape these accidents with their lives. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 410 deaths were reported due to ATV accidents in 2008 alone, 74 of them of the deaths of children under the age of 16. The actual number of deaths may be even higher. Many more people — over 135,000 — were treated in emergency rooms for ATV-related injuries that year, 28% of them children. The average cost of hospitalization for people injured by ATVs tops $20,000. It’s upsetting to think that such carnage can continue year after year while ATVs with inherently unstable designs remain on the market.
Consumers can stand up for themselves if they are injured by dangerous or defective products like ATVs. Victims of injuries caused by defective ATVs, or other types of defective products, can hold manufacturers legally responsible for the harm that their unsafe products cause. Illinois and Missouri state laws require manufacturers of consumer goods to ensure that their products are safe for consumers. Using products according to the manufacturers’ directions, or according to common practice, consumers should be able to expect that they will be safe. If the consumer is injured or killed by a product even while using it in what they reasonably expected would be a safe way, the consumer can sue the manufacturer for financial compensation for his or her injuries. In a lawsuit, the expenses of pain and suffering, damage to relationships, and past and future lost wages and medical costs can all be laid at the feet of the one who caused the injuries — the defective product’s manufacturer.
Consumers who sue to hold manufacturers responsible could even be helping to protect others in the future, by spurring needed changes or warnings. As I wrote earlier this year, in the automotive industry, lawsuits over flagrant safety problems in automobiles drove the development of safety innovations. If you are injured by a potentially defective ATV through no fault of your own, you can help yourself as well as to others by consulting an experienced, knowledgeable southern Illinois ATV safety defect attorney at Carey, Danis & Lowe to learn about your rights. We can meet with you in our office, at the hospital or in the privacy of your home if you cannot travel. To learn more, you can call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400, or contact us online.